MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz- Clouds of dirt sprinkle into the air, and a thunderous explosion swept across the secluded training area of Yuma Proving Grounds, in Yuma Ariz., as multiple grenades were detonated by combat engineers from Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz., Tuesday.
Approximately 30 Marines with Marine Wing Support Squadron 371 participated in the live-fire training exercise utilizing the M203 grenade launcher, the M32 multiple grenade launcher, and the MK19 automatic grenade launcher.
“It was great Marine Corps training,” said Staff Sgt. Brandon Wood, the combat engineer operations chief with MWSS-371. “As Marines, we’re always looking to improve. Especially as combat engineers, it’s important that we know the tools and aspects of today’s combat.”
To ensure the Marines were fully instructed in safety measures and proper handling methods, their training began by firing dummy rounds that detonated into small bursts of smoke when they impacted. Once the engineers were comfortable with their technique, they began firing High Explosive, Dual Purpose (HEDP) rounds.
“It’s knowledge and knowledge is power,” said Lance Cpl. Keith Whitaker, a combat engineer with MWSS-371. “Being out here just today, I learned a lot more than I thought I was going to learn.”
Firing and understanding the capabilities of a vast array of weaponry is one of the distinguishing characteristics of the Marine Corps. However, this training is not just about firing rounds down range, but working to condition the warrior mind-set necessary to accomplish the mission during combat at any given moment.
According to Wood, having multiple opportunities to work with the weapons systems paved the road for success in combat zones because decisions originate from the fundamentals of this training.
“Every Marine should be trained with these weapon systems,” said Cpl. Benjamin Rodriguez, a combat engineer with MWSS-371. “A lot of Marines use these weapons at Marine Combat Training (MCT) and then never see them again during their career.”
Overall, preparation is crucial for Marines to become proficient with various weapon systems, and that education will increase the unit’s ability to operate across a broad spectrum of missions.